High profile police murders of unarmed Black people of the last few years have provoked responses from all over the country. Movements such as Black Lives Matter have protested against it, but the deeply systemic nature of anti-Black racism means that it would continue regardless. As these continuing cases garner less media attention, the state of affairs has turned into one that Americans watch as indifferent bystanders. “Kill Move Paradise” by James Ijames deals with this predicament, utilizing the concept of Elysium as a framework. Now playing at the National Black Theatre, this show was not what you might expect.
For those who may not be aware, Elysium is the Greek concept of the afterlife for heroes. While many of these Black men and women who lost their lives were demonized, using the concept of Elysium, their humanity is affirmed. Starring a cast of four, Kill Move Paradise acts out a hypothetical interaction between those who have lost their lives at the hands of law enforcement. Directed by Saheem Ali, the point of the show is to affirm in the after life what was denied in life. While it is uncomfortable, it is out of necessity. In grasping how the logic of racism works, the characters recount how they lost their lives. One of the actors was a mirror of Tamir Rice. Black men are often thought of as scary, dangerous, and threatening. During the play, one of the characters mentioned that they first noticed that they were regarded as “scary” as young as 8 years old. Such perceptions continue to cost way too many people their lives.
Kill Move Paradise is a play that forces us to deal with our apathy, and our inability to make these killings stop. What we turn away from, is what we accept.
Kill Move Paradise is playing at the National Black Theatre until June 25th.